Josephine came to ECNV in August 2017 when her mother ended up in the hospital and was unable to care for her. Josephine had a traumatic brain injury as a youth, which caused physical and intellectual issues, and her mother had been caring for her ever since. They both were living with their cousin at the time. When her mother became ill, she decided to find her independence. She came to us to get help to find housing among other services. ECNV staff was able to help her find a home in a group setting. She also did travel training with us and now is able to independently use the Metro system. Josephine most recently received help to apply for the Medicaid waiver and was granted her waiver to get help a few hours a week to help her live independently.
Diana Urquiza is a 51-year-old woman who lived in Cherrydale nursing home in Arlington, Virginia after an accident that injured her spine, and sought help from ECNV to transition back to the community. ECNV had advocated for local jurisdictions to provide tenant-based rental assistance vouchers for nonelderly disabled people looking to transition through the Money Follows the Person program (MFP.) Since Diana had family in Fairfax, she was able to apply for and secure a voucher. She transitioned out of the nursing facility with MFP transition services through ECNV and with housing search assistance from her peer mentor at the Center. Diana was an accomplished artist and musician prior to her accident and was delighted to perform at ECNV’s holiday party in 2015. She has since become a tireless advocate for disability rights and deinstitutionalization, visiting legislators’ offices and giving public testimony about issues affecting the community.
Cali has resided in Fairfax County, Virginia since she relocated with her mother Leticia from Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2006. A single head of household, Leticia was employed and beginning to restart her life when she and Cali, then 13 years old, were in a car accident which left both of them with traumatic brain injuries and Leticia with a spinal injury which affects her mobility. With newly acquired disabilities, extraordinary medical expenses, and loss of Leticia’s job, they ended up in a homeless shelter. ECNV helped Leticia and Cali to obtain rental assistance and move to an affordable, accessible, two-bedroom apartment. We assisted her to apply for consumer-directed personal assistance from Virginia’s Medicaid Waiver Program, and continue to provide her with IL services including mobility devices and travel training. Leticia also participates in local and state advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities.Cali, a good student prior to the car accident, experienced both significant learning difficulties and health issues when she returned to middle school. We provided Leticia peer support and advocacy to ensure that Cali got an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Initially, Cali was shy, but by her senior year she was fully engaged in self-advocacy. ECNV then helped Cali apply for vocational rehabilitation services to attend college. Cali graduated high school with honors and at the top of her class. She now attends Arcadia University with a full tuition scholarship from the university, personal fundraising and VR assistance.Now a rising senior, Cali volunteers as a student leader and mentors others in the International Studies Program. She received a U.S. State Department Galman Internship for students with disabilities studying abroad. She was a Virginia Youth Leadership Forum participant in high school and has returned as a volunteer mentor for other youth with disabilities. She is in the process of applying for graduate school and is one of our LEAP award winners!